Began dating 6 months ago, knew from years ago in a class, kept very loosely in touch, became a couple 3 months ago. I was attracted to his gentleness, depth, and intelligence, he is extremely sensitive.
Getting to know him more deeply, he’s explained family has a history of mild OCD,
the ways that, throughout his life, he’s struggled to manage his sensitivity and feels he dissociated quite a bit in order to overcome his anxiety and feelings of sadness around his childhood separations, when joint custody at 7 y.o. began shuffling him from (extremely close and gentle)mom to (much less empathic) dad every 2 weeks. Has a lot of anxiety still with work stress, mood swings, tries to manage emotions by not indulging them, also represses grief to keep going without breaking down (lost mom recently very young), masturbates daily.
* repeatedly explains he feels has two opposing sides of personality = gentle and calm, super empathic but then other side angry enough sometimes “to kill someone” (when i asked another day, said was hyperbole, not literal). Another time explaining 2-sidedness saying, ‘I’m not a homicidal maniac or anything, but i do lose empathy and go into my shell when i get stressed”. Another time- along with sadness, reports feeling vengeful at times toward woman who rejected him in past or betrayal by friends; people who hurt his mom during illness he wants to ‘make suffer’- but quickly says just feelings.
*watched A LOT of b-horror movies & scifi as an adolescent, still enjoys violent and action films now, even though he’s so sensitive- says perhaps it’s overcoming his own fearful nature in a way because knows it’s all fake.
*In random moments in our calls (we’re L/D for a few months because of work), he will make a (for me) non-sequitur violent “joke” or reference:
ex’s: 1)when talking about a colleague who is possible competitor, joked ‘i could take him for a walk along a frozen river’; 2) once when joking about the ‘jinx” game when say same word at same time, i said could immunize self (joking, like an injection), he replied suddenly, “if you had a gun you’d be invincible”; 3) answered video call at same time, he made gesture of pistol at screen; said it was like an old western movie duel
My concerns: is he demonstrating violent ideation and attraction to violence/revenge that indicates a potential emotional instability that could lead to acting out?
Unfortunately, despite all of the details you’ve provided, there’s not enough information here to make a definitive determination. If I were your therapist, I would be attempting to assess how much these problems interfere with his life but more importantly, whether they interfere with your relationship.
For instance, you wrote about the possibility that he has emotional problems. You mentioned mood swings, anxiety, and so forth. He may have some anxiety issues but is he able to control them enough so that it does not impact his life or the relationship? Are you seeing elements of these issues getting in the way of your happiness with him?
Regarding his “two opposing sides of personality,” how does this manifest? He explained his thinking but does it go beyond thought? How does this type of thinking manifest in his everyday life? Essentially, does he behave in ways that indicate violence? Has he ever acted upon these thoughts? Thinking about violence is one thing but acting on it is another.
Regarding his tendency to joke about violence, context matters. These examples are out of context and thus it’s difficult to know if they are warning signs.
Dating is about getting to know someone more deeply. One is attempting to determine if it’s a good match. If you are seeing things you don’t like, and you worry that this person may be unstable, then he may not be a match for you.
Making a decision about who you date and who you may spend the rest your life with is of the utmost importance. You are asking all of the right questions but I am limited as to how I can help. It would be wise to consult an in-person therapist, who could help you make a determination about whether or not this relationship is wise to pursue. I would highly recommend it, as your future happiness largely depends upon choosing the right mate. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle